Westbrook admitted in his season-ending interview that he didn't think the criticism he faced was warranted. But, like always, he refused to dwell on it.
“I just got to continue to do what I'm doing and try to stay positive,” Westbrook said.
Ironically, Kendrick Perkins had a front-row seat to similar scrutiny that landed on another point guard's front stoop three years ago. His name was Rajon Rondo, then in his second season with Boston. The Celtics had just acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team up with Paul Pierce, and Rondo became a giant question mark to the team's title hopes.
Eventually, Rondo silenced the critics that season.
“Rondo's (criticism) lasted for a little bit. Russ' lasted throughout the whole playoffs, no matter if he played good or bad,” Perkins said. “He still was getting criticized on something. And I thought he handled that, as I say, like a G.”
Perkins, who joined the Thunder in mid-February, was impressed with how a much younger Thunder team avoided the perils of outside noise. In Boston, one of the league's biggest pressure cookers, Perkins had quickly learned to tune out most of it.
“I don't even talk basketball with my own wife; seriously, because it can break up a locker room,” Perkins said. “It can break up a team.”
The remaining Thunder players got that lesson this postseason and, fortunately for them, they didn't have to learn it the hard way. They never succumbed to the scrutiny, and now they should be stronger because of it.
“I'm definitely going to try to come back and be stronger,” Westbrook said.